By Michael Popke
John Elefante is probably best known for replacing Steve Walsh in Kansas from 1981 to 1985; he sang lead vocals on “Play the Game Tonight” and “Chasing Shadows,” and also co-wrote “Fight Fire With Fire.”
But Elefante’s solo career stretches back to 1995’s “Windows of Heaven,” and his album – “Revolution of Mind,” credited to Elefante and his old Christian-rock band Mastedon – features guitar work from Kansas founder Kerry Livgren and REO Speedwagon’s Dave Amato. (Elefante cheated a little bit with his Beatles choices here, not even attempting to explain their importance. But we’ll turn the other cheek.)
1. Yes, 90125
This record introduced me to a whole new way of thinking about production, song format (there was none) and harmonies. Wow.
2. Peter Gabriel, So
Commercialism meets pop meets prog meets a guy who can deliver a vocal performance that oozes with conviction. There’s also an undertow of rhythmic percussion that kills me.
3. Steely Dan, A Decade of Steely Dan
This music, lyrically, was so out there that I couldn’t help being totally sucked in. The way these guys meshed jazz, Julliard and pop was nothing short of genius.
4. Ambrosia, Ambrosia
I think this is the only record I played over a million times. It brought me to a new level as an artist.
5. Boston, Boston
This record had everything. When I first heard it, I really considered getting out of the business!
6. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Any attempt at an explanation why this record changed my life would sound trite. It just changed my life.
7. The Beatles, Revolver
See my explanation for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
8. Pink Floyd, Dark Side Of The Moon
This record brought me to another place, and I kept going back and back and back.
9. Sting, Fields of Gold
This record introduced me to the world of writing with metaphors thrown in, along with great songs, great vocals and fabulous melodies.
10. John Elefante, Defying Gravity
I had a life-changing experience while making this record, so it makes the list. When I hear it, it’s like reading my autobiography.